A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Like water off a duck’s back

see Water off a duck’s back

Like wildfire

A wild fire is of course, a destructive conflagration that gets out of control, but this is not thought to be the origin of the expression that someth...

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Meaning lacking in courage or cowardly was coined by Shakespeare in Macbeth (1605) Act V, Scene III, Macbeth says to a servant boy, “Thou lily-liver’d...

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To occupy the limelight means to be in a conspicuous position, which attracts maximum attention or publicity. In the early 19th century, before electr...

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Limey is US slang for a British person since the late 19th century and is an abbreviation of lime-juicer which dates from the 1850s. Originally, the t...

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Line in the sand

see Draw a line in the sand


Informal, possibly slang, word for language or dialect. It dates from the mid-17th century and derives from alterations of many words that stem from t...

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Lion’s share

The lion’s share is the largest portion, and the expression in this sense dates from the 18th century. For many hundreds of years before this, the lio...

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British slang for verbal impudence or abuse, as in to give someone lip, dates from the early 19th century.

Lip service

see Pay lip service

Lit out of here

see Light/lit out


Litotes is a figure of speech that expresses an affirmative by negating the opposite. For example, the sentence, “The lady was not unattractive,” mean...

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Little bird

As in the expression a little bird told me, indicating a secret source of information dates from the early 1500s but the exact origin remains unknown.

Little knowledge is a dangerous thing

The actual quotation is “A little learning is a dangerous thing” and was coined by Alexander Pope in An Essay on Criticism (1711). Pope may have been...

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Live and let live

Live and let live is first attested in English as a proverb in English Proverbs, a collection that was compiled by John Ray in 1670. Because Ray lists...

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